Stilt Sandpiper flock

Today Alex and I headed down to Lebanon County with Steve and Josh for some shorebirding. We were hoping to find the previously reported Long-billed Dowitcher to compare with the bird we just had trouble with in Centre County. The first flooded field we stopped at was huge and the shorebirds (mostly yellowlegs) were distant. I eventually picked out a dowitcher in flight and followed it back to the ground where we got distant identifiable, but unsatisfactory looks at our second Long-billed Dowitcher in a week.

We then headed to another nearby flooded field and hit the jackpot with 25 Stilt Sandpipers in a group of yellowlegs. This is by far the largest flock that any of us have seen in Pennsylvania and they were pretty close to the road, affording great looks.

Stilt Sandpiper

Mixed in with the flock of yellowlegs and Stilt Sandpipers were three Dunlin; all were adults almost entirely molted into basic plumage except for a few breast and wing feathers. It was a nice comparison between the Dunlin and Stilt Sandpipers which have very similar bill shape but different body shapes. Other differences include leg color and overall coloration with the Dunlin showing a much browner coloration in contrast to the Stilt Sandpiper gray.

Dunlin - adult with several unmolted breast and wing feathers